Teachers need courses to learn programming skills before subject enters curriculum, say tutors

‘Massive retraining’ required for computer science

Developing teacher-training courses in computer science must be a priority for education, a teacher has claimed.

Speaking to The Observer, the director of teaching and learning in ICT at Sidney Stringer Academy in Coventry, Amy Desmond-Williams, and a number of other teachers, said that whilst bringing computer science into the curriculum is great news for students, much must be done to prepare staff for the change.

Desmond-Williams said that with so much focus on ICT having been on the business side, schools are in “a bit of a panic” over teaching the subject to students.

“When I was training only a few years ago there weren’t really any courses in computer science for teachers,” she said.

“It tended to be ICT with a strong bias towards office skills. The subject of computing was very much linked to business studies. There is a bit of a panic now in schools. Developing new teacher training courses has to be a priority.”

Mark Clarkson, Head of IT and computing at Egglescliffe School in Teeside, said that since many ICT departments in schools often consisted of PE, maths and physics tutors, “massive retraining” is needed to ensure teachers are prepared.

"There was a time when ICT departments in schools were made up of interested PE teachers who compiled their football teams’ results on spreadsheets and a couple of maths and physics teachers who knew a bit of coding,” he said.

“Now it’s mainly teachers with business studies backgrounds. There needs to be massive retraining to make sure teachers can deliver different content from what they have been used to delivering. We don’t so much need more teachers as teachers with different skills.

“We’ve developed a whole generation of teachers with a skillset that is not what we need for the long term future of computing in schools."

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